tv Beyond the Headlines ABC July 29, 2012 10:00am-10:30am PDT
victims are women. one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. today we're going to identify exactly what domestic violence is, learn about something called reproductive and sexual coercion and hear about the prosecution of domestic violence cases. we'll talk about the impact the economy has had on shelters. let's begin with high profile case in the bay area. incident between suspended share ross mirkarimi and his wife elena lopez. >> she is at the heart of attempting to oust her husband. mayor made the move after mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. on the witness stand he is supporting them and defending their marriage. >> you have never considered divorcing your husband? >> no, not really serious.
we had been talking about that but we never make any decision. >> reporter: dean johnson says expressing a united front is typical in domestic violence cases? >> the problem is that is not what she said at the time. of course, the city attorneys will point that out. the most powerful piece of evidence is that video. >> reporter: that video of lopez was taken by her neighbor the day after the new year's eve fight with mirkarimi. on the stand she talked about her conversation with madison and tried to put the tape and tears into context. >> she also said to the sheriff, this she used the word old boys network. they will cover each other until you have to make evidence.
>> reporter: joining me right now is kathy a director of an organization that helps victims of domestic violence. some say that the mirkarimi case is a marital argument that got out of hand. i have a problem with that statement. what are your thoughts on that? >> thank you for having me here today. i would say that in the context of an argument that that it fits the term domestic violence, an act of domestic violence. in fact, ross mirkarimi indicated under oath he had committed a violent act against his wife at the time he did it and he knew he had broken the law. >> cheryl: any time you put your hands on somebody in the heat of argument is not something people should be doing? >> no. >> cheryl: so for that reason and the next question, how do you define domestic violence? >> there are definitely
different forms of it. it's a pattern of abuse in an intimate relationship where one partner uses control over another through force, intimidation or threats of violence, but it can also include ice late go them from their family, financial abuse, name calling, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse where someone is prevented from going to a religious activities of the church of their choice. >> cheryl: keeping them away from their friends? >> isolating them from friends and family. moving somewhere they may not know anybody and not creating an environment where they are able to make new friends and new connections. >> cheryl: some people isolated their partners and follow them
to work. >> right, absolutely. >> cheryl: what tomorrow's of abuse are the least reported to authorities? >> i think verbal abuse, psychological abuse, even financial abuse where it may just over time, it doesn't happen over night. it's a slow erosion of autonomy where the victim may find herself losing control of her finances, maybe she has to turn over the pay, not seeing the family but it doesn't stand out as an act of domestic violence. she may be thinking, it's not that bad. it's not like he is beating me or causing me physical harm. >> cheryl: when kids are involved, it takes it to another level? >> we frequently see women come
and first ask for assistance when the violence begins to shift off of them and spilling over onto their children. i think sometimes that really prompts a mom to take action. so it's very common we see that very frequently. >> cheryl: i heard some abusers and i may have hit her but i never hit the kids? >> they see what is going on. they are definitely impacted by it. it affects children of all ages, little tiny children, infants and toddlers all the way up to adolescents that don't understand what is happening and having to cope in ways that may not be healthy and make it difficult for them to succeed in school. it's a serious problem. >> cheryl: one of the questions, why does she stay or he stay if
an abusive relationship? >> i would say the blame gets shifted. it's complicated. the victim starts to feel responsible what is happening. i'll use a current phrase. you can't unring this bell. the bell wasn't running by the victim. the bell was running by, in this the bell was rung by the person that is guilty of a crime. so suddenly the victim feels responsible maybe not only the violence or the poor status of the relationship but also for the consequences of that. you see guilt, shame, fear, financial insecurity. how am i going to t mysel of myself and my family? what is going to happen to me? what will happen to him? >> cheryl: and this is an organization like yours and you have a website.
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coercion. it takes a lot of forms it includes hiding or destroying a partner's birth control or poking holes in condoms. carrying off the contraceptive patches and pulling out a partner's i.u.d. -- joining us with more rebecca levenson a senior policy analyst for futures without violence. thanks for being here. i heard about this during a conference with domestic violence. you were talking about them. how widespread is this? >> it's very widespread. we did a study funded by the national institutes of health. the principal investigators found that in california, one in four women were experiencing reproductive coercion, a partner
trying to get them pregnant as a means of control when they didn't want to be by engaging in behaviors that you just mentioned. >> cheryl: how drastic do they go? >> well, as you mentioned, it's everything from popping the birth control pills out and putting sugar pills and to revolving contraceptives off the >> chery >> cheryl: that is so dangerous, too. my goodness, you will know if this is happening if you get pregnant. >> one of the questions we ask them, is there ever a situation where you feel like he is trying to get you pregnant when you don't want to be. do you have a funny thought in the back of your head. the condom broke again. so she has to come in for emergency contraception.
it's opportunities, something may be quite right but the health care provider to help check in and give her methods of contraception that are less vulnerable. >> cheryl: what about the range of sexual coercion? >> sexual coercion is when someone forcing, pressuring you, threatening you to do sexual things that you don't want to do. part of what we see happen especially when it comes to sexually transmitted things, how important it is to check in with women about if they have a sexually transmitted disease. are you worried he is going to hurt if you have to talk to him about this and help in ways to be safer. >> because if she got the infection, or whatever the relationship is then she can't go back to him or her and say, you need to take something or do
something? >> put ideals at risk of being infected. this is sort of a broad issue that has real opportunities for health care providers to help women with. >> cheryl: are any of these issues illegal with these kinds of activities? >> it's a great question. unlike what kathy was talking about the mirkarimi case, this gets into a playing where emotional abuse involves. it's not reportable under california law but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen to educate teens and young adults and women and healthcare providers to come up with strategies to make a difference. >> cheryl: you have a conference did you find that a lot of health providers were shocked at this information? >> every time we do a training, the number of providers, whoa, i
had this feeling along the way but no one gave it a name. so there they will be comin out with a opinion talking about reproductive coercion and talking to their gynecologists about talking to them about this i think people have had experience but didn't quite know it and didn't know what to do about it. we're here to help them. >> cheryl: nobody ever had a name for it. >> we helped claim that name in the study. >> cheryl: that is going to be on your website and we'll be posting it. thanks for the work you are doing. >> thank you for having us. >> cheryl: we are going to continue with "beyond the headlines," is our legal system doing enough to end domestic violence. george gascon will talk about
>> cheryl: welcome back. we've been talking about domestic violence. we ask the to join the conversation on our facebook page. the question is -- what do you think is contributing to the high rated of abuse? is the law doing enough to protect victims? also the state of economy is adding frustration into the family system not that it's an
excuse. regardless of how much help is out there nobody can help you until you help yourself. the victim on female a on male domestic violence. we invite you to reach, find us at facebook community affairs and follow me on twitter abc7. joining me what is being done to curb domestic abuse at the legal level is district attorney from san francisco, george gascon. thank you for being here? >> my pleasure. >> cheryl: we have been deeply involved with high profile cases. i want to restate some statistics, one in four women experience domestic violence, what measures are in place to try and decrease that percentage? >> we have come a long way. i remember when i first started
my career, this was deemed to be a private matter. most police will do that the fighting stopped, perhaps have the man cool off and come back and abuse continues. we as a society have come to recognize it's not a private matter. legislation has been enacted in multiple different ways in order to be able to get law enforcement and get the prosecution necessary tools to mitigate and reduce domestic violence. at a very local level the things we are doing, we increase the training for prosecutors. we work very close with them. we continually try to educate our people, community information, victim services unit is very robust unit. we are dealing with the physical abuse with it but deal with the psychological and financial. w have come a long way.
have we arrived there? if you look at statistics one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence. in san francisco, highest second highest is homelessness for women, second highest cause for homelessness is domestic cause. so there is lot more things to be done. >> cheryl: what are some of the laws of domestic violence, do they all get reduced to misdemeanors, do some people go to prison? >> often the victim is going to be very reluctant for a variety of reasons, there is a financial dependence, there is psychological abuse and integrity of the family. the victims are not going to cooperate. unless there are witnesses and there is injury we can sustain that is connected to the
incident, they happen in the silence and privacy of t unless you have other evidence it becomes difficult to prosecute the case. >> cheryl: for people that do wind up being a part of system, a batterer, they will be sent to a program. what happens if they go to three through the program, does it stay on the record? >> it stays on the record. there is no longer pretrial diversion, you have to plead guilty or if you have to be found guilty by a jury. once that occurs, typically what happens in san francisco you have three years of probation, 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling, once a week for a year you have to go. the scout monitoring the process. we get regular reports whether you are progressing. one of the key components is the admission there is something wrong and you are the one that
there is something wrong. it's not the victim or the system but you. >> cheryl: do the programs work? >> many times they do. again, it's a process that continuous process but many times, especially if we can interfere early on. we can provide services to the baterer and services for the women. when we do that early on, often we are successful. >> cheryl: one thing we notice that families do want to reunite? >> precisely. and keeping families together and stopping the violence. when we prosecute a case, we know that family is going to stick together but we want to ensure we created a healthy environment at home. >> cheryl: what message do you have for those that are abusers? >> the message regardless of what your social status, if we have sufficient evidence we will
prosecute, we will. to the victims there is a lot of services. if we can't prosecute the case, we can provide you with counseling, psychological help. deal with financial issues. there is a lot of help for the victims. we can't get to you unless you take the first step. wait? to wait?wouldn't want >> no. it doesn't get better with time. it's not like wine, it gets worse. >> cheryl: i appreciate your time and expertise. the economy had dropping donations because of the including women's
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stand stand is nonprofit. they take individual donations plummet and forced them to cut 12 full-time positions. i was shocked when i heard about this. that is a lot of money. >> it is a lot of money we lost last year. we were protected from the early years of recession because there safety net funding but that has dried up, it's been very detrimental effect on our ability to raise funding. >> cheryl: how much did you lose? >> we lost about $200,000 last year, maybe a little more. >> cheryl: you had to lay off people and need is getting bigger. >> we get about 15,000 calls a year to the crisis line in requests for shelter have gone up during the recession. it's very difficult on amilies to deal the financial issues that they are facing. unfortunately families that don't know thousand deal with conflict often resort to violence. we get more calls.
>> cheryl: 19,000 calls and any time the economy is bad, you have more people coming? >> absolutely. >> cheryl: you handle a huge county. >> yes, a million people in the county. it's a lot to handle. >> have you seen other shelters affected? >> absolutely. there have been pockets shelters throughout the state of california. >> is that not good for the victims. how are you trying to cope with this right now? >> well, we're actually trying to consolidate our services and not drop anything from position of service but to restructure the organization and rely on more on volunteers and put out a call for financial help to the community. >> cheryl: any amount of donations would help? >> absolutely. >> cheryl: i know that i also help with children, too. you have day care centers? >> we do. we also provide services to victims of child abuse now.
we do both domestic violence and child abuse. >> so my guess is when people hear about, this i can't call them because they can't help me? >> no, absolutely not. we maintain our 24-hour crisis line, it's a high priority and make sure people get the help that they need, no matter what our financial situation is. >> cheryl: what do you think the most important message would be? >> i think there are two messages. one is if it is happening to you you are not alone and there is help available. you can help the agencies that are providing services. >> cheryl: there are many ways to do it. notices jutsd with money. >> we need volunteers more than ever. we have volunteers that help us with client services as well as with fund-raising activities as well as office kinds of activities. we can always use volunteers. >> cheryl: i hope we can help.
i hope our viewers can help at home can help, too. that is all the time we have for now. a big thank you to all our guests. we have informa with with everything we talked about today available on our website at abc7news.com/community. you can find us on facebook at abc7 community affairs. follow me on twitter. thanks so much for joining us. have a great week. we'll see you next time.
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